India 1990
Directed by Mahesh Bhatt.

Azaad (Anil Kapoor) is a petty thug a "goonda", his dad, head of a gang. But then he rescues Seema (Meenakshi), a village girl, from the local pimp and promises to make her a singing superstar. She loves him gratefully, but he doesn't want marriage until they succeed. And so he partners her with another singer, Dhiren (Govinda), and pretty soon she's fallen for him and Azaad, who sacrificed his family and his life savings for her, goes mad with jealousy.

One begins losing sympathy for poor Azaad as he beats the crap out of Meena, who is subsequently hospitalized. One then loses respect for the movie as a whole when Meena refuses to tell the police who beat her, thus, in the words of Azaad, "proving her true love." Girls, take note -- love means never having to say who beat you to a pulp. Later, he throws kerosene all over her, but fails to light a match. She helps him out, but then he decides he can't go through with it. Awwww, what a softie.

Despite the despicable support for domestic abuse that this (and too many other Bollywood films) has, AWAARGI is not a total loss. I go to foreign films so that I can see different points of view, and try to understand where other people and other cultures are coming from, and it's hard to imagine a film that puts our cultural differences quite so front and center as AWAARGI. Anil Kapoor is in full-on bastard street thug mode, a style in which he often excells (Banaam Badshaw being another classic example). He's a rough drunkard, his father is an underworld Don, but really, all he wants is to be loved. Anil succeeds in making Azaad sympathetic, no small feat given his character. It's a great performance, and combined with the spandex and glitter of the band's musical numbers (by Annu Malik), makes AWAARGI recommended viewing.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on May 18, 2007.


More pissed off tapori Anil! Yes, please!

Posted by: the Post-Punk Cinema Club at January 4, 2009 08:06 AM
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